Theater review: 'All New People' -- 2.5 stars

All New People

All New People (Credit: Handout)

All New People

2.5 stars

"All New People," which marks Zach Braff's debut as a playwright, is not all that bad in spite of some structural problems. But it is hardly ready for a first-class Off-Broadway production.

It's hard to believe Second Stage would be producing the play if not for Braff's celebrity - you remember him from "Scrubs and "Garden State," right? - and the fact that he starred in a play there last summer.

The comedy, set in a lavish New Jersey beach house in the dead of winter, tries to combine familiar elements of farce with details of loneliness and a portrait of unexpected camaraderie among opposite personalities.

It begins with Charlie (Justin Bartha), a depressed 35-year-old air traffic controller, preparing to hang himself with a noose strapped to the roof. Just as he is about to commit the act, Emma (Krysten Ritter), a quirky English real estate broker, unexpectedly bursts in and saves his life.

It turns out that the house is owned by Charlie's rich friend, and Emma is trying to lease it for him.

Next to arrive is Myron (David Wilson Barnes), a coke-snorting fireman with a crush on Emma.

He is followed by Kim (Anna Camp), a high-priced and ditzy hooker with a heart of gold (of course) sent to cheer Charlie up.

The back story of each character is revealed through randomly inserted video clips. Although they help to break the monotony and feature cameos by S. Epatha Merkerson and Tony Goldwyn, Braff should have been able to convey this info without needing to stop and restart his own show.

The play ends on a curiously unresolved note, after Emma has made a startling revelation and Myron has confessed his love for her. It hardly feels finished.

From her entrance, Anna Camp steals the show with a hilarious blend of sexiness and sincerity.

Bartha, who is best known for the "Hangover" films, overplays his character's angst in an irritating one-note performance.


If you go: "All New People" plays through Aug. 14. 305 W. 43rd St., 212-246-4422, 2st.com.

Tags: entertainment , all new people , justin bartha , zach braff

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